Vegas Bomb Plot: Zachary Jackson and Fellow Simi Valley Teen Threaten to Blow Up Strip
Updated after the jump: Ventura County officials say the 16-year-old has not yet been arrested, and Vegas cops call the Strip "a very important part" of Nevada. Aw. Originally posted at 12:30 p.m.
Most recently, two teens from Simi Valley (Zachary Jackson, 18, and a 16-year-old accomplice), apparently loopy off some heist-movie binge and bored as hell on summer vacation, allegedly brought out the voice decoders for a string of bomb threats that got them arrested on Wednesday --
A joint operation between the Las Vegas PD and Ventura County Sheriff's Department.
But instead of directing the threats at their local high school like normal teen hooligans, Jackson and his friend aimed high: They were "arrested for threatening to blow up numerous Las Vegas hotels and casinos if the operators failed to come up with protection money," according to the Los Angeles Times.
Jackson's arrest record shows the black male was nabbed August 10 -- on counts of "False Bomb Report" and "Attempted Extortion" -- an apartment complex along Patricia Avenue in Simi Valley:
The Associated Press says deputies "found sophisticated devices they believe were used to make the calls" during the raid, and now believe "the callers disguised their voices" when they "demanded large amounts of money and threatened to destroy the properties if they weren't paid."
Silly boys. For all you explosion-happy high-schoolers thinking about doing the same: Might we suggest the VegasImplosion YouTube channel, where hotels are routinely (and legally) blown up every decade or so, to keep the Strip looking nice and fresh? No felony bomb threats required:
Update No. 1: A public information officer for the Vegas PD says he cannot release specifics on "the devices that they used to disguise voices," as "We can have copycats who possibly think it's a good idea, and try to do the same thing ... or we can have somebody perceive something as a challenge and see if they're able to succeed."
Got that, kids?
As for the hotels and casinos targeted: "Businesses -- we consider them to be victims, and we do not release victim information." And the criminal demands: "They were asking for large amounts of money, but we cannot be specific as to what that amount was."
So... Basically the Vegas PD can tell us nothing at all. Ventura deputies aren't revealing much either, but here's what they got:
From July 28th, 2011, through August 8th, 2011, numerous Las Vegas hotels and casinos received bomb threat phone calls. The caller appeared to be disguising his voice and was demanding large amounts of money. The caller threatened to detonate the bombs and destroy the properties if the casinos did not meet his demands.The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) Counter Terrorism Section immediately initiated an investigation into these calls and learned that the suspects were attempting to use sophisticated devices in order to conceal their identity and location. LVMPD Counter Terrorism Detectives were able to learn that the suspects were making the calls from Ventura County California. ...LVMPD Counter Terrorism and Cyber Crimes Detectives will be examining the devices recovered for additional evidence. Some of this evidence may potentially identify new incidents and victims.
Update No. 2: Despite previous reports, sheriff's officials tell NBC LA that only Jackson has been arrested -- not the 16-year-old suspect. And Vegas press officer who previously told us the department wants to discourage "copycats" now tells NBC that's because the Strip "is a very important part to the state of Nevada."
Ventura County Sheriff's Department Zachary Jackson, 18
True that. In fact, we can't really think of another important part. Besides, like, Burning Man.
NBC also spoke with Jackson's neighbors, who described "about two dozen officers dressed in riot gear, weapons-drawn outside the apartment." And, quite sadly:
After the arrests, the mother told neighbors the boys got in trouble for making prank phone calls. By Friday, the seriousness of the charges was apparent, as the mother said she was surprised and devastated.